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NASA Earth Space

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Set For Launch Tomorrow 183

bughunter writes "The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) is slated for launch tomorrow, February 24, 2009. OCO is the first earth science observatory that will create a detailed map of atmospheric carbon dioxide sources and sinks around the globe. And not a moment too soon. Popular Mechanics has a concise article on the science that this mission will perform, and how it fits in with the existing 'A-train' of polar-orbiting earth observatories. JPL's page goes into more detail. And NASA's OCO Launch Blog will have continuous updates as liftoff approaches and the spacecraft reports in and checks out from 700km up."
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NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Set For Launch Tomorrow

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  • by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:53PM (#26962445)

    I dunno. What will the climate change critics do when it shows that the theories are spot on?

  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:09PM (#26962643)

    the creationists who believe that man cannot corrupt the Earth since it was created by a loving God

    Automatic -5 Flamebait (or something) for me, but being a creationist, I can say that I have never heard of the position you just laid out. Incidentally, as a creationist, I think I actually have more of a reason to care about the earth, as most Christians that believe the book of Genesis will also believe that man was put on the earth as a caretaker of it. That definitely implies using it wisely and not destroying it.

    On the other hand, I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the earth if there is no God and I'm a product of evolution.

    This is a partial indictment against Christians, by the way, for not developing a better (for lack of a better phrase) environmental worldview. But I haven't actually heard of the position you mentioned. :)

  • by Samschnooks ( 1415697 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:11PM (#26962665)
    If there is any discrepancy between data sets, those folks are going to use it as proof that Global Warming is a hoax. Like this businessman [], well he is in the business of climate, I guess that makes him an "expert" to some people and qualifying him to call Global Warming a hoax.
  • by loose electron ( 699583 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:12PM (#26962683) Homepage

    Its interesting that no matter how much knowledge, data, statistics, etc, are gathered, there will always be those that are never convinced. Be the subject, evolution, global warming, or that the earth is round.

    I can find people that will vehemently deny the validity of all three of the above. Sometimes you just want to throw your hands up in the air and quit trying.

    My favorite one in the right here and now is "Clean Coal" - Well, if you want to convince us that coal is clean energy, then why don't you build a clean coal plant, and let people come in and measure and analyze your work? If they can demonstrate just one "Clean Coal" plant, then that would be worth more than the tens of millions of dollars put into advertising for clean coal. Sorry, but when this OCO gets running its going to be interesting to see the patterns and observations received on the coal plants spewing CO2, NOx, trace Mercury, Sulfur, and other goodies into the air.

    But that doesn't mean it will convince some people...

  • presume by "they", you mean atmospheric scientists? Presumably, they'd follow the scientific method and adjust their theories to fit the new data.

    Or, they would have just been wrong. Hansen, Gore, etc, wrong. Just like everyone else who gets up on the soap box, makes a statement about the universe, and comes back down smacked down by reality. Wrong.

    If you fall into the latter camp, I wouldn't get your hopes up.

    Hey, I'm hanging onto my lack of sunspots. 2008 came in cooler, and we'll see how 2009 does.

  • by tjstork ( 137384 ) <todd DOT bandrowsky AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:48PM (#26963111) Homepage Journal

    Its interesting that no matter how much knowledge, data, statistics, etc, are gathered, there will always be those that are never convinced. Be the subject, evolution, global warming, or that the earth is round.

    What you don't understand, as you triumph evolution or the round earth, is how many times scientists have been WRONG. Before the earth was round, it was flat, it's been shaped like a disk. It's been hollow, filled with magma, it's had a liquid core, a solid core, and now it might have two cores orbiting each other.

    First we heard that mega-disasters could not happen and the dinosaurs died of disease because mega-disasters are bible thumping things, and then we find a comet smashed into the earth, and then it is possible that not only did a comet smash into the earth, but the siberian traps exploded at the same time and then maybe there was a big disease after all or maybe just rats ate all the damn dino eggs.

    And don't even get me started on diseases... first you bleed people and then you got some guy sticking his finger into Lincoln's brain and then you got a cure for all bacteria and soon viruses and cancer then woops we're nowhere on cancer and viruses and bacteria are going to win after all.

    Hot damn.

    But, before you go on about how science progresses and is never wrong, let's apply that same standard of excellence to our former President? I mean, George Bush wasn't wrong when he invaded Iraq. He merely learned that Saddam did not have WMD, and the original plans for the invasion needed to be revised to consider an increased number of soldiers. He wasn't wrong... he just learned!

    Now, my point is really this. The ratio of right to wrong in science will most definitely approach 0, but, the consequences of each step will also approach 0. Basically, the big stuff smart people figured out long time ago, fire, food, water, and that had big consequences. Then lesser consequences as more was learned, different kinds of fire, food, water... the air... and we keep drilling down and also learn about things that don't matter as much... the earth is flat / round. really, if you are a 10th century farmer, why care? Doesn't matter. Same thing today... the Higgs is X ev or Y ev, is that going to make my dick bigger? It might, down the road, but the dirty secret of science is that the more we know, the less it matters, and, since we know so much, and invalidate so much, scientists are pretty increasing the probability of being wrong.

    So, rather than worry about whether or not there's global warming, I'd build a fire, have a drink and a cigar, and don't sweat it. Science has given you enough to have a pretty darned good life, anything else it gives you is nice to know but probably obsolete as soon as you hear it, so why bother with it?

    I mean, seriously. You rail on the ignorant, but, look at what science says : the ignorant are everywhere, so obviously, they must be better than you... that's what Darwin says.

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:08PM (#26963293) Journal
    "But why do I care if my genes are evolutionarily successful?"

    As a farther of tow adult childeren and soon to be one grandkid I say you won't know the answer to that until your genes ARE evolutionarily successful.
  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:25PM (#26963491)

    That is presuming a fundamental and rather unfounded proposition: that I have a [moral?] obligation to do my best to let my descendants live. Why should I personally care if "evolutionary failure" occurs? I live, I die, and I'm gone from the world. If my descendants die and evolutionary failure occurs... well, that would imply a few things, at least to my mind/amount of education in evolutionary thinking. (1) I and my descendants were not fit to survive, and thus evolution didn't "fail" but rather succeeded in letting other humans, who were fit, survive. (2) If the entire human race, or even the entire planet has an evolutionary failure (I'm not entirely sure what that "really" means, as evolution is presumably a natural force/process and thus can't "fail," right?), what difference does it make? In the course of the X billion of years, it seems that many planets should have come and gone. So what if earth goes?

    My obligation is to not screw it up - obligation to whom? My not-yet-born descendants? Their not-yet-born descendants? Well, not being born, and presuming there is no God and no overarching plan of some sort, they don't care and it doesn't matter if they aren't ever born. Obligation to humanity in general? Well, I don't see why I should worry myself about humanity, unless they're going to kill me if I don't (and that seems to be a rather akin to forcing morality, or ethics, or standards, or whatever, on individuals..)

    Here's my bottom line again. I actually don't see any real obligation, if I were an atheistic evolutionist, to do anything about the earth. Or, for that matter, to do anything for humanity. Unless I see a distinct benefit in it for me AND I have a desire to reap said benefit. On the other hand, as a Theistic (not Deistic) Creationist, I would argue that I have actually more of an obligation to the earth/world, because I claim to serve its Creator.

    (this is weird, I'm arguing for higher responsibility/obligation on slashdot. what am I thinking?!)

  • by simonff ( 632498 ) on Monday February 23, 2009 @08:19PM (#26964031)
    Meanwhile, you can browse interactive maps [] of US antropogenic fossil fuel CO2 emissions based on the data produced by Project Vulcan at Purdue. Google Earth browser plugin is needed, or you can load all data in a KML file in Google Earth directly. There is also a flythrough video [] explaining the different data views. Full disclosure - I'm the programmer who created the maps. Yes, the page is slow to load, but once a layer is accessed, it'll stay cached.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal